When I was at high school I had a music teacher who was afraid of buttons. I don’t mean freakishly large buttons, ones with weird designs on them or even Button Moon, I mean just the average cardigan button. She hardly ever wore clothes with buttons on, and would freak out if a stray one happened to be placed on her desk. Obviously the moment she confided this in someone, word got around like wildfire (as it does in schools filled with pubescent teens) and we revelled in her bizarre pain; with students leaving buttons here there and everywhere in the hope of finding her shaking behind the piano during choir practice after finding a spare shirt button sneakily wedged between the keys – note to self, children are cruel.
I always thought these unusual phobias were just downright silly. I secretly loved watching those documentaries on “the woman who is scared of supermarkets, bananas, tea bags and washing up liquid” – you know the ones on people who literally can’t do anything for fear of seeing a giant purple penguin as they walk down the street. WEIRDOS RIGHT????
Little did I know that just a few years later I would be getting a serious taste of being the ‘freak’ with the irrational phobia. I learnt the hard way that weird phobias are usual born from horrible, often unforgettable experiences. Ok, so mine is one of those phobias that I often laugh at. Mine is a phobia which would raise a smile to a gargoyle’s face. In fact I would challenge you not to smirk when you hear about my possibly unique fear which used to reduce me to a blithering wreck this time every year – thankfully I’m just about starting to get over it.
Yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m frightened of mini eggs. Not just any mini eggs though, Cadbury’s Mini Eggs – you know the ones which are everywhere from around January every sodding year. Easter is hard for me – button phobia doesn’t seem so weird now does it – poor woman.
Shockingly enough not many people know this about me. I’m sure you can understand why I don’t shout it from the rooftops. For one it’s embarrassing, childish and well a little bit pathetic. Oh and it takes a bloody long time to explain and often I just can’t be bothered. Usually I save this quirky fact for that ‘getting to know you’ game; you know the one where you say three facts, one which is true and two which are false to a room full of strangers and they have to decide which is true. Shockingly enough no one ever decides the mini egg phobia is true but would rather believe I studied to be a forensic scientist, or my father’s an astronaut than my weird chocolate fear. You can only imagine the looks of surprise and, well horror when they learn they will be studying with, flat sharing with, or working with a totally irrational freak for the next so many days/months/years of their lives.
A pause… and the obvious questions always follow. What? Why? How? The great classics…and I launch into my spiel, which is a lot more sensitive, understandable and hilarious than you might expect. You never know you might just feel sorry for me!
Of course I’ve not always been frightened of little balls of chocolate. Easter used to be a fun time filled with magical Easter egg hunts around caravan sites, back gardens and rooms in my house, or searching for golf tees (to win eggs) in my primary school playing fields, getting Thorntons’ bunnies from my gran and ending the day covered head to toe in chocolate and feeling sick on our annual caravan holiday. So many good memories.
But it all changed for the worse when I was around 14 years old. I hadn’t been diagnosed with Crohns (then, now UC) for very long when I was admitted to Booth Hall children’s hospital in Manchester for treatment. I was suffering from a severe flare and needed IV steroids pumping into me in a hope it would stabilise my condition and allow me to get back to school and stop collapsing all over the place. It was only meant to be for a few days, but it all went horribly wrong when I picked up a hospital virus (which my mum only later learned was MRSA when she deciphered the doctors notes when they weren’t looking – it was in the days before the wash your hands 15 times before touching a patient and ties/ flowers were banned).
I have been in a lot of pain in my life, but nothing ever like that. I went into toxic shock and ended up on so much morphine it took weeks to finally come down from the high. In the end the doctors had to knock me out to stop me screaming, and I finally woke up in the peace and quiet of HDU attached to a cinema of monitor screens, with wires coming out of every patch of exposed skin and my parents watching anxiously by my side. During this time I watched the Matrix with my dad – I’ve never watched it again as it gave me motion sickness and I think it is a another phobia – I’m afraid of seeing it again.
At the time of my admission it was Easter. The wards were full of crayoned pictures of chicks, eggs and bunnies. Paper sunflowers, lambs and other spring things littered the walls of the children’s gastro ward, and relatives had brought in enough Easter Eggs to supply a food bank. During my stay the Man U seconds (right name??) team even came round to give out Easter Eggs – I was having a scan or asleep or plain didn’t want to see good looking footballers when I was chucking my guts up, had no makeup on and with unwashed hair- so I didn’t meet them. But I did end up with a variety of eggs around my bed during my stay – none of which I got to eat as I was on a liquid only diet and my sister had eaten them all by the time I got home.
Anyway the presence of eggs everywhere the eye could see combined with large quantities of morphine resulted in a very odd effect on me. As my body fought off the toxins coursing through my skin I started my life long torment of night frights, which I still have today. These are very real nightmares which leave me reaching for the phone to check family members are alive and terrified of opening the front door in case of a massacre outside – frankly these have become rarer but when they happen are still horrific. I also experienced horrific hallucinations – some which have stuck with me for a very long time.
The mini egg thing comes from a particularly frightening hallucination. Me and my family had recently watched the Mummy, and for all of you who’ve seen it I’m sure you’ll remember the bit with the Scarab beetles? Well I must have been more traumatised by them than I thought, because my hallucination, which I saw clear as day as if it was as real as this iPad Mini screen, was of me being eaten alive by swarms of scarab beetle style Mini Eggs!!! Basically the hallucination, which was followed by a reoccurring nightmare, saw me walking without a care through a meadow on a sunny day when I hear a weird scurrying noise behind me. Then I see a swarm (well ocean) of multicoloured ovals cascading towards me… I start to run as they get nearer and I see thousands of mini eggs with sharp pointy teeth and evil eyes scuttling towards me. YES I’M SERIOUS MINI EGGS WITH TEETH!! As they get on top of me, swarming over me like the scarab beetles, looming over the hill comes the Cadbury purple bird.. giant, hideous and laughing at me as I’m nibbled to death!!!!
Terrifying!!! And it seemed so real! Ok, so sat in the comfort of my home I think it’s fairly funny, I mean Mini Eggs with teeth, but even now when I see a bag of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs I want to throw them across the room. It honestly played havoc when I worked on the tills in Sainsbury’s, I could hardly bear to touch the packets and flung them across the scanner to the packing areas… so many kids must have had smashed mini eggs that year because of my morphine trip! Obviously most of my mates thought my phobia was hilarious, and many tried tricking me into touching and eating the chocolate monsters, with one friend kindly buying me a krispie cake while we were working at JD Sports together…when I reached into the paper bag and felt the shape of the eggs I almost threw up!!! Extreme I know!
Ok, so it’s not a severe fear – like fear of flying, spiders (although I am scared if these) or work (often referred to as laziness) which will actually stop me from living my day to day life – but it’s a phobia none the less which I’ve had to come face to face with in work, while shopping, in cafés and in restaurants. It’s not helped by the fact Mini Eggs are the face of Easter or that they’re usually placed next to the till so you literally can’t avoid them. And it’s definitely not helped by the fact Easter (according to the Gods of marketing) actually arrives in our supermarkets straight after Christmas.
I’ve luckily got over my fear (somewhat steadily) over the years, something which has been helped by Cadbury’s removing the bird off the packaging, oh and me no longer frequenting the chocolate aisle due to my lactose intolerance. But it still lurks in the back of my mind. I may no longer throw the packets across the room, ban them in the office, or avoid the Easter Egg aisle, but I do shudder at the adverts and packets/tubes when doing my weekly shop.
I guess that will never change. It’s a laughable fear but one that reminds me of one of the worse moments of my life and no doubt after writing this I will wake up sweating and screaming “anything but the Mini Eggs” at 2am!